The nation’s No. 1 high school football prospect has had some serious NFL comparisons since he burst onto the national scene. That’s a good thing, considering quarterback Arch Manning has been compared to Peyton and Eli Manning, who just so happen to be his uncles.
The Isidore Newman School quarterback, who follows in his family’s footsteps as the signal-caller for the Greenies, has made waves in the recruiting scene with every college football fan waiting with bated breath for Arch’s decision, similarly to the one made by LeBron James in 2010.
But unlike King James and his move to Miami or Zion Williamson’s decision to commit to Duke, Cooper Manning’s kid is making a choice that could change college football for the next few years, and one conference, in particular, has a leg up on the competition.
With Peyton’s legendary status at Tennessee cemented and Uncle Eli’s reputation still intact at Ole Miss, the SEC may be getting their fourth Manning to sign a letter of intent to play in the fabled collegiate conference. The only question that remains: Where?
Arch Manning’s College Short-List
According to Sports Illustrated, Arch Manning is now considering six schools, each of whom has its own unique draws for the five-star recruit. Some fans will be sad to see their schools left off the list. Sorry Clemson, USC, Arkansas and Ohio State, but this Manning isn’t considering suiting up outside of the SEC anytime soon.
Currently, the nation’s top quarterback recruit is considering his options between Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss and Texas, who is set to join the SEC in the next few seasons. Sorry, Peyton Manning, but the Tennessee Vols did not make the cut. That’s gotta sting a bit.
Each of the six NCAA schools that remain on Arch’s list offers different experiences to the crown jewel of college football recruiting, but which is a better fit than the others?
Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama offers Peyton’s nephew a chance at adding to an already long history of success, as well as the chance to be coached by Nick Saban, one of the greatest college head coaches to ever patrol a sideline. It would also give Arch the opportunity to play under offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, a seasoned NFL veteran. Joining the Alabama Crimson Tide would certainly set Arch up for success in the NFL as we’ve seen with recent NFL draft picks like Mac Jones and Tua Tagovailoa.
Similarly, LSU offers some recent success at getting quarterbacks ready for the NFL, as evidenced by Joe Burrow and his ascension as the savior of the Cincinnati Bengals thanks to a 2022 Super Bowl run. There’s also a potential draw for the grandson of his namesake Archie Manning to become the first Manning to play in Louisiana, where the elder Manning spent a decade under center for the New Orleans Saints. However, the new LSU head coach, Brian Kelly, doesn’t have an ideal track record when it comes to star QBs, so this could result in negative yardage for the Tigers.
Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs are an interesting option for the prize of the 2023 recruiting class. The reigning national champions will have signal-caller Stetson Bennett IV for another year, but whether or not second and third-string options Carson Beck and Brock Vandagriff would create a logjam is still yet to be determined. At least there’s a chance Manning could beat out the other two Dawgs for the starting role, rather than playing under a bonafide star somewhere else. Arch Manning has since scheduled a second visit to Georgia after being impressed the first time around.
Florida and Ole Miss are maybe the most intriguing of schools on this list, as the Gators and Rebels have not seen nearly as much success as the other schools on this list. According to The Athletic and CBS Sports, the Gators weren’t even a Top 50 team in their end-of-season power rankings. To put it bluntly, Florida has not played in a meaningful bowl game since Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow left The Swamp. One letter of intent could change the course of the Gators’ program.
Ole Miss Rebels
The Rebels are in the same boat, with Lane Kiffin looking to bring Ole Miss back into relevancy with the school’s third Manning quarterback at the helm. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, these two schools may provide Arch Manning with room to grow and legends to write. With QB Matt Corral declaring his intent to enter the 2022 NFL Draft and John Rhys Plumlee leaving via transfer portal, the Rebels already have some real questions under center for the upcoming season. Perhaps a gap year with Luke Altmyer is the only way to go and then spend most of the year wooing yet another Manning into playing for Ole Miss.
But the one school with the most buzz surrounding it is Texas. Yes, Texas is not a member of the SEC yet, as UT and Oklahoma are set to join the conference over the next few seasons, but this could be their perfect door-busting welcome gift to their new conference mates. The Longhorns football program is now under the leadership of Steve Sarkisian who is trying to get the program back to where it was during its heyday. It was 247Sports who first began connecting the Longhorns and Manning match, but Eric Nahlin of On3.com was the first to outwardly say it’s going to be Texas that lands the nation’s top prospect.
While we all hang on the words of articles like this, recruiting prediction podcasts and word of mouth rumors from the cousin of a booster’s wife’s hairdresser, the only thing that is truly going to calm the nerves of every SEC football fan is a signed letter of intent from Arch Manning. When that day comes it’s going to feel like winning a national championship, especially for the schools who are desperately trying to win their first in a very, very long time.